'Thug Life': Former Gang Member Turned Reverend Opens Up About His Transformation & Jesus Devotee

By Eliana Regev | Friday, 26 August 2022 16:45
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Partying, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, fighting, engaging in gun violence, and stealing are some of the juvenile adventures Rev. Derek LaFleur wishes he never had.

Twenty-five years ago while growing up in Beaumont, Texas, LaFleur was an active member of the Bloods, a street gang with mostly African American members established in Los Angeles, California. The gang is broadly known for its rivalry with the Crips, another California-based street gang that's also had a presence in Southeast Texas.

However, decades later, LaFleur is a passionate follower of Jesus, using his history to disciple and lead other former gang members to Jesus.

Today, LaFleur serves as an ordained deliverance minister at Oklahoma City-based Authority Church. Every day he goes, he can't forget what the Lord did for him.

Growing up in the late 1990s, LaFleur was surrounded by high crime and violence levels. It wasn't uncommon for youth to join gangs in the neighborhood.

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One of four children in his family, LaFleur told The Christian Post in an interview that he has primarily happy memories from his childhood mainly due to his close-knit, loving family. His mother and father were happily married and loved him.

Originally, LaFleur was raised in a nonreligious Catholic household. But during his youth, his parents rediscovered their faith more intimately at Paradise Baptist Church. His parents taught him the foundational importance of maintaining the Christian faith.

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LaFleur's father became more pious and created a rule for all the children in the household: "If you're going to live under my roof, you must attend church."

LaFleur followed that rule because he loved his father and wanted to be around him.

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Things became challenging after his parents divorced when he was in the fifth grade. LaFleur said he felt greatly rejected by his mother as she moved out of the family's home. After a few years, LaFleur would still see his mother but mostly lived with his father.

"The divorce is when my anger started. I joined the gang at 9 because I was just trying to fit in and feel that love and support," LaFleur said.

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"I mean, I'm not saying that my family did not love me. I just wanted to feel welcomed somewhere else."

From then on, LaFleur said he hung out with a "bad crowd," engaging in fighting, smoking, and much more.

"I was more than just a partier," he recalled. "But, I was pretty much the party pooper. I would go to parties just to crash the party. If we went to parties, I would get into multiple fights. If we went clubbing, I crashed the club by getting into fights."

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For over half a decade, LaFleur continued as a member of the Bloods, engaging in gang-related activities. On a few events, LaFleur said he had run-ins with the cops but was never detained because he was never caught for his actions.

However, when he was 14 and in the eighth grade, LaFleur said he was falsely accused of a crime unrelated to gang violence and placed in juvenile detention.

While imprisoned, he recalled feeling pure despair. He turned to prayer and encountered Jesus Christ for the first time, changing the trajectory of his life forever.

Two years after his release, LaFleur turned away from gang affiliation and fully accepted the Lord as His Savior. He later received the call to go into the ministry.

"I'll never forget the day I was arrested on April 1, 2001. I remember hearing the words, 'you are under arrest,'" he recalled. "They read me my rights, and then I was handcuffed. It was just confusing, and I remember thinking about the things I said and the things that I didn't say, just racing through my head over and over again, thoughts like, 'What did I do? What was I doing? What did I not do? Why did I get up?'"

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